Friday, September 29, 2006

Stop Punting

NFL coaches punt in opposition territory, or on short yardage, in order to avoid blame -- if a team goes for it and fails the coach is blamed, whereas if a coach does the safe thing and kicks and then loses, the players are blamed. But skip the psycho-dynamics and ask: Should a football team ever punt?

Think about all those punts on fourth-and-1, fourth-and-2, fourth-and-3. The average NFL offensive play gains about five yards. Yet game in, game out, coaches boom the punt away on short yardage, handing the most precious article in football -- possession of the ball -- to the other side. Nearly three-quarters of fourth-and-1 attempts succeed, while around one-third of possessions result in scores. Think about those fractions. Go for it four times on fourth-and-1 -- odds are you will keep the ball three times, and three kept possessions each with a one-third chance of a score results in your team scoring once more than it otherwise would have. Punt the ball on all four fourth-and-1s, and you've given the opponents three additional possessions. (It would have gotten one possession anyway when you missed one of your fourth-and-1s.) Those three extra possessions, divided by the one-third chance to score, give the opponent an extra score.

Someday there will be a coach who doesn't punt.

How to win at Rock Paper Scissors

With the 2006 World Rock Paper Scissors Championships coming up in November in Toronto and $10,000.00 on the line (not to mention bragging rights of being able to call yourself "World Champion of RPS"), trying to get some sort of edge on your competition is becoming a focal point for a lot of players.

Little bit of background. Contrary to what you might think RPS is not simply a game of luck or chance. While it is true that from a mathematical perspective the 'optimum' strategy is to play randomly, it still is not a winning strategy for two reasons. First, 'optimum' in this case means you should win, lose and draw an equal number of times (hardly a winning strategy over the long term). Second, Humans, try as they might, are terrible at trying to be random, in fact often humans in trying to approximate randomness become quite predictable. So knowing that there is always something motivating your opponent's actions, there are a couple of tricks and techniques that you can use to tip the balance in your favor.

The secret to winning RPS according to the pros.

Basically, there are two ways to win at RPS. First is to take one throw away from your opponent options. ie - If you can get your opponent to not play rock, then you can safely go with scissors as it will win against paper and stalemate against itself. Seems impossible right? Not if you know the subtle ways you can manipulate someone. The art is to not let them know you are eliminating one of their options. The second way is to force you opponent into making a predictable move. Obviously, the key is that it has to be done without them realizing that you are manipulating them.

Most of the following techniques use variations on these basic principles. How well it works for you depends upon how well you can subtly manipulate your opponent without them figuring out what you are doing. So, now that the background is out of the way, let's get into these techniques:

1 - Rock is for Rookies

In RPS circles a common mantra is "Rock is for Rookies" because males have a tendency to lead with Rock on their opening throw. It has a lot to do with idea that Rock is perceived as "strong" and forceful", so guys tend to fall back on it. Use this knowledge to take an easy first win by playing Paper. This tactic is best done in pedestrian matches against someone who doesn't play that much and generally won't work in tournament play.

2 - Scissors on First

The second step in the 'Rock is for Rookies' line of thinking is to play scissors as your opening move against a more experienced player. Since you know they won't come out with rock (since it is too obvious), scissors is your obvious safe move to win against paper or stalemate to itself.

3 - The Double Run

When playing with someone who is not experienced at the RPS, look out for double runs or in other words, the same throw twice. When this happens you can safely eliminate that throw and guarantee yourself at worst a stalemate in the next game. So, when you see a two-Scissor run, you know their next move will be Rock or Paper, so Paper is your best move. Why does this work? People hate being predictable and the perceived hallmark of predictability is to come out with the same throw three times in row.

4 - Telegraph Your Throw

Tell your opponent what you are going to throw and then actually throw what you said. Why? As long as you are not playing someone who actually thinks you are bold enough to telegraph your throw and then actually deliver it, you can eliminate the throw that beats the throw you are telegraphing. So, if you announce rock, your opponent won't play paper which means coming out with that scissors will give you at worst a stalemate and at best the win.

5 - Step Ahead Thinking

Don't know what to do for your next throw? Try playing the throw that would have lost to your opponents last throw? Sounds weird but it works more often than not, why? Inexperienced (or flustered) players will often subconsciously deliver the throw that beat their last one. Therefore, if your opponent played paper, they will very often play Scissors, so you go Rock. This is a good tactic in a stalemate situation or when your opponent lost their last game. It is not as successful after a player has won the last game as they are generally in a more confident state of mind which causes them to be more active in choosing their next throw.

6 - Suggest A Throw

When playing against someone who asks you to remind them about the rules, take the opportunity to subtly "suggest a throw" as you explain to them by physically showing them the throw you want them to play. ie "Paper beats Rock, Rock beats scissors (show scissors), Scissors (show scissors again) beats paper." Believe it or not, when people are not paying attention their subconscious mind will often accept your "suggestion". A very similar technique is used by magicians to get someone to take a specific card from the deck.

7 - When All Else Fails Go With Paper

Haven't a clue what to throw next? Then go with Paper. Why? Statistically, in competition play, it has been observed that scissors is thrown the least often. Specifically, it gets delivered 29.6% of the time, so it slightly under-indexes against the expected average of 33.33% by 3.73%. Obviously, knowing this only gives you a slight advantage, but in a situation where you just don't know what to do, even a slight edge is better than none at all.

8 - The Rounder's Ploy

This technique falls into more of a 'cheating' category, but if you have no honor and can live with yourself the next day, you can use it to get an edge. The way it works is when you suggest a game with someone, make no mention of the number of rounds you are going to play. Play the first match and if you win, take it is as a win. If you lose, without missing a beat start playing the 'next' round on the assumption that it was a best 2 out of 3. No doubt you will hear protests from your opponent but stay firm and remind them that 'no one plays best of one for a kind of decision that you two are making'. No this devious technique won't guarantee you the win, but it will give you a chance to battle back to even and start again.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Jesus in a dogs butt.

Angus MacDougall is a three-year-old terrier mix that has recently been blessed with the revered and holy image of Jesus Christ on his hindquarters. Is this manifestation of The Prince of Peace a coincidence or a bona fide miracle? One thing is for certain, this apparition of the Son of God is sure to inspire controversy. Not much - if any - true scientific or theological inquiry has been made into the nature of this sign to date, but "seeing is believing" as little Angus' terrier-tush is obviously marked by the likeness of Christ.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Democratic Comedy

OK. Comedy time. Democrats in the last 72 hours are claiming the reason gas prices are down is "manipulation" by the White House to influence the mid term elections. Democrats are suspicious of the timing. Life is good, and according to Democrats - we'll attribute this to Republicans.

Speaking as a Republican, make no mistake - I'm not so incredibly stupid to believe the Bush administration has the ability to effect gas prices. Why would Bush have sent prices skyrocketing in the first place? Now there's speculation that big oil wants to keep Republicans in office - and that's why they've "voluntarily" lowered prices. The depth of this idiocy is beneath me attempting to explain. (By the way - Gas here is up 25 cents again. Bush called someone.)

Today there is a new development that really has me riled up. ESPN is being accused of dubbing in crowd sounds during sportscasts. "Boos" - when Democrats are introduced - and "Cheers" - when Republicans are introduced. Apparently someone heard a "click" Monday night as George H. W. Bush was introduced. It's deduced that the crowd booed and the broadcast contained cheers. Never mind that those in attendance reported no boos - just cheering - as the former President tossed the coin.

Dumb. The seventh level of dumb. John Stewart had the President of Pakistan on the Daily Show last night. Bill Clinton shouted down Chris Wallace on Fox. Hillary is attacking Condoleeza. I don't know how much longer I can take it.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Bulldoze Pigeon Forge

Just back from the Smoky Mountains. Did the Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge run. I've been before - this time with my eyes wide open.

Back in the 30's the government ran the mountain folk out of the mountains and established a national park. These "hillbillies' opened tee shirt stores at the base of the mountain. Not being able to read, hillbillies opened tee shirt stores across the street from one another. Some tee shirt stores are literally side by side. They appear to all get their tee shirts from the same distributor, because the selection is the same no matter which hillbilly tee shirt store you shop. There are 1000 places to buy tee shirts within 10 miles of the entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Some of the hillbillies sold their businesses to Middle Easterners. Being Middle-eastern in eastern Tennessee might not be easy. That appears to be why Habib - changed his name to something more Americanized. I actually met a man who appeared to be Pakistani, and sounded as if he immigrated here 30 minutes ago. His name tag read, FRED. Right.

You can get "The best barbecue in the Smokies" at every corner. Every sign, TV commercial, billboard, radio commercial, newspaper & magazine ad proclaims: "The best barbecue in the Smokies." Driving "The Parkway" those words jump out every 10 seconds. Yes, there are barbecue joints sandwiched in between the tee shirt stands. I ate barbecue in the Smokies for 4 days straight. On the drive home, I chose fish. I may not eat barbecue for months.

All you can eat. This appeals to the "vacation glutton" in each of us. Apparently there are many of you, but trust me, if you want a decent meal - avoid these places altogether. Or if you must "eat all you can", get there the moment the line opens. Arrive 5 hours after opening, and you're eating food that's laid there 5 hours.

Pancakes and "flapjacks". I'm not sure why they believe we want pancakes and flapjacks so badly, but these joints are every 1000 feet.

Go carts & Nascar. They even have Nascar go carts. This is especially fun after a day of eating flapjacks and barbecue.

How about an "Antique photograph?" Ya know, the orange looking photo of you wearing the vest with no back. You wear the pants that clip onto the front of your regular pants and select a stupid hat. These establishments are spaced at 500 foot intervals. Stupid & overpriced.

Outlet malls. You're smart enough to know how this works aren't you? You better be a small or a medium - or they won't have your size. The larges, extra larges and 2x sold out when this merchandise was in retail stores 2 years ago. Wait. Make that 5 years ago - in some cases 10 - because these places just keep adding merchandise - without ever weeding out the old - making the stores cramped, sloppy and unpleasant to shop at best.

Bulldoze this place and start over. Wipe it clean right up to the entrance to the park. The stupidity ends at the big "Entering Smoky Mountain National Park" sign. Words can't describe the beauty of this place. It's special - and what's at the base of the mountain has taken it's toll on me. I'll go back - to a hard to reach cabin far away from the Parkway. Just blindfold me as I make my journey there.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Steve Jobs pulls IPOD from his ear!

OK, this IPOD thing is getting dumb. Look at what Steve Jobs has in his hand. It's the new teenie weenie IPOD. Christ. Are you someone who leaves sunglasses in restaurants? Do you lose pens? How about gloves? Do you leave things in your pockets and run them through the washer? Have you ever lost your keys or remote control? This goofy micro IPOD thingy doesn't stand a chance. Sure, Apple will sell gazillions. It's the consumer that will lose when we misplace these expensive midget IPOD's. Drop this sucker on the floor and the dog will eat it. Lean over the toilet at just the wrong moment and you'll flush it. This sucker is gonna be baked into cakes and swallowed by toddlers.

Soon, I'll be able to store 5000 songs and 100 hours of video in a little white "pill." At least that'll be easier to swallow.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Keith Olbermann shut up

Todays SHUT UP goes to MSNBC's Keith Olbermann. Geez, I'm tired of being spoken down to. Your command of the language and style with a pen is dramatic. You speak to me as if from Mt. Olympus - your words more important than mine. Your thoughts more important than mine. You are the guy I hated in High School. The guy I avoided at parties. You are the man ladies avoid. Your commentaries on MSNBC are winded examples of one simple point that you manage to talk about for 8 minutes. Your diatribes go on and on and on and you haven't yet learned a simple lesson. No one really cares what you think. Your ratings are that of a mid market 10 pm newscast - and you are broadcast nationally. You know just one thing and that is that you are right. You're completely right - end of story. It's tone, demeanor, body language - stick a fork in yourself Keith Olbermann - you're done. You're bloating with self worth and if I know anything about broadcasting - and I'm afraid I do - you're outta there. You're a opinion piece in a free newspaper at best.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Al Qaeda are all Fags

Hard to believe the Department of defense tried to cover up this pic. It got out. On this 5th anniversary of September 11, 2001 - I present it here.

In my humble opinion, vaporizing thousands of people is much worse than calling someone a "fag."

Friday, September 08, 2006


Aretha Franklin is behind, literally, a growing movement to grant statehood to her two enormous breasts.

"The two masses have a an area in square miles the equivalent of Vermont and New Hampshire, and I see no compelling reason that they should not be granted statehood," says the movement's spokesperson, Harry Smiderson.

Republicans in Washington are terrified that the movement may gain momentum in the current anti-Bush atmosphere. "Two large, African-American breasts are likely to generate senators and representatives that vote along with the Democrats, and this is a scenario we cannot allow," says National Republican Party spokesperson, Roger Snick.

Ms. Franklin has refused to comment to media about the issue.

I wanna shoot Cindy Sheehan with a Firehose

Stand her up. Tie her to a pole. Hell, cut her loose - and let her run. I wanna hit her with a 2600 p.s.i. fire hose. Something tells me she'd get right back up and start talking again. I'd shoot her again. This time square in the face. Amazingly, she'd still be speaking. The fire hose idea isn't gonna work. I have to re-think this.

Now Cindy Sheehan says "she dreams of being able to go back in time and kill the baby George W. Bush - thereby avoiding the Iraq war." This is sick & screwed up on many levels.

First, she wants to avoid the war to save her sons life. If she had been able to go back in time and kill baby W. - she'd serve time for murder - not get pregnant - and the whole point would be moot. This is great irony.

Hasn't Cindy seen Back to the Future or Terminator? These flicks clearly spell out the dangers of time travel. What about the "time space continuum?" What if while on her baby murder mission - she runs into her own younger Mother, who recognizes what a shitty child she's going to produce and decides not to have Cindy after all? Cindy then would vanish from all pictures ever taken of her. I know it happens this way - I've seen it. What if Biff tries to make out with her? Marty won't be there to bail her out - and Arnold won't say, "Come with me if you want to live."

I have a dream too. Just had it last night. Sheehan went back in time, but she caught a "wormhole" and spends eternity in a phone booth with George Carlin.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The original Crocodile Hunter

If you're over 35 - you might recall the original Crocodile Hunter, Marlon Perkins. Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom debuted in 1963 and ran for 27 years.

Johnny Carson used to poke fun at Marlon. I remember, "While Jim wrestles the elusive wild boar, I'll prepare beans back at the camp." My generation spent countless hours watching Marlon fire nets connected to rockets over flocks of birds. We watched Marlon race up to Zebras in a '66 Range Rover and tag it's ear at 30 miles per hour. He always showed us what was under the rock.

Marlon was doing this when no-one else was. There was no Discovery channel. There was no Animal Planet. All Marlon had was a little syndicated TV show that was provided free to TV stations, if they ran it intact - with the commercials for Mutual of Omaha. Remember, "The Koala bear protects it's young. You should do the same, with Mutual of Omaha!"

Steve Irwin was a dynamic personality. Marlon wasn't. His voice was monotone. He wasn't particularly handsome - but was certainly dapper. What happened to Irwin was sad, but I believe the Steve Irwin was saw on TV was a performance FOR television. Irwin certainly KNEW when the cameras were on - and "played to them." This isn't bad. This just wasn't Marlon Perkins. He was the same on & off camera. I know because I witnessed it first hand.

Marlon Perkins was the director of the St. Louis Zoo for the run of Wild Kingdom. One day (mid 60's) my family was visiting the zoo. While watching the alligators from a distance, a Cushman 3 wheel car pulls up. Marlin Perkins is behind the wheel. He parks, gets out, scales a small fence, climbs a small wall, wades into waste deep water, and literally bare-hand grabs a 5 foot alligator from the water. He puts it under one arm and ties it's snout with string. He then places the alligator into the back of the Cushman and drives away.

This was my only personal encounter with the host of Wild Kingdom. There were no cameras, make up or lights. This was a real Crocodile hunter - and he was doing it 40 years before Steve Irwin.